This summer FWSU will offer an exciting opportunity for current seventh grade girls to explore the world of computer science. We are launching a Girls Who Code Club. The goal of the program is to heighten interest in this incredibly important field of study which is currently in decline, especially among women. Coding, or computational thinking, is a collection of skills that result from studying the nature of computation. It includes problem solving, creativity, the ability to explain, collaboration, and teamwork.
It also consists of some very specific problem solving skills such as the ability to think logically and algorithmically. It is also about understanding people and, even more importantly, finding and solving problems that will confront our world in the future. Computer Science is unique in the way it brings all of these diverse skills together. So why is this club being launched this summer? Why is this important for our girls? Check out these very sobering statistics:
- In 1984, 37% of all computer science graduates were women, but today that number is just 18%. (Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- Girls comprise 56% of all Advanced Placement (AP) test-takers, 46% of all AP Calculus test-takers, BUT ONLY 19% of AP Computer Science test-takers.(Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.4% of high school girls select computer science.(Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold just 25% of the jobs in technical or computing fields. (Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- Percentage of American freshmen intending to major in computer science: Males – 2%. Females .02% (Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- Women’s share of undergraduate degrees is lower in computing than in any other STEM field. (Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
- Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2014).
- Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (58%) and biological and medical sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in engineering (13%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%) (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2014).
- There has been a 79% decline in the number of 1st year undergraduate women interested in a Computer Science major between 2000 and 2011. (NCWIT, 2012)
- 21% of girls say their parents encourage them to become an actress, while 10% of girls say their parents have encouraged them to think about an engineering career. (Harris Interactive for the American Society for Quality, 2009)
- Women earn…
- 57% of all undergraduate degrees
- 52% of all math and science undergraduate degrees
- 42% of all math and statistics degrees and 40% of all physical science degrees
- BUT only 18% of all computer and information sciences undergraduate degrees (Girls in IT: The Facts Infographic)
Clearly we must turn the tide and encourage young women to enter this essential career area. Such change will take time and effort. Fortunately schools across FWSU have been ramping up in this area for several years.
Our STEM initiatives, Engineering Day and Maker-Faires are good, but they only scratch the surface. Therefore we are expanding opportunities for all students in all of our schools. Next year InnoLabs will be introduced throughout our system (coding, robotics, gaming, making, fabrication), but this summer we will focus mainly on our middle school girls.